What are the visual impacts of converging planes of color? This question is central to Scottish artist Daniel Mullen’s most recent series of paintings, which displays stacks of thin, rectangular sheets in exacting, abstract structures. “I am looking more at Rothko’s body of work and studying the vibrations of color and the almost alchemic effect that his work has on the sense,” the Rotterdam-based artist tells Colossal.
Comprised of meticulous angles and lines on linen, the acrylic paintings are studies of precision, geometry, and perception, allowing each element to collide in a mathematically aligned composition. Mullen’s process involves measuring and taping the individual planes before laying the slight, translucent marks. “In this way, the work is built up slowly over time, incorporating irregularities, brush strokes, and bleeding paint into a work that breathes, floats, and expands through the energy of color,” he says, explaining further:
The forms might seem to reference glass panels or other architectural configurations but that is only the scaffolding for the viewer to locate themselves within. Beyond that initial shape is an attempt to move towards a perception of ekstasis; or the vibrant energy of the universe, imaginary and unmapped. One that questions the symbols of power and place in today’s fast-paced, heavily digitized environments.
The pieces shown here follow Mullen’s collaborative synesthesia series that translates non-visual senses to the canvas—he and artist Lucy Cordes Engelman will be working more on this concept during a residency in upstate New York early next year. You can follow updates to that body of work and explore more of his recent paintings on Instagram.
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To create the brightly colored textile that cloaks a three-level staircase on the Appalachian State University campus, artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn (previously) imagined the concrete steps as a massive loom. They drew grids on the outdoor structure to map out where each individual strip would start, end, and intersect with the larger geometric forms. “There was a lot of math involved, getting the angles and perspective right was a challenge but eventually everything locked into place,” the Baltimore-based duo, who are known as Jessie and Katey, shares with Colossal.
Evoking the quilts and other textiles that are traditional to Appalachia, the large-scale artwork is composed of vivid gradients layered into a complex web of stripes and woven patches. Neutral-toned tassels line the angled edge at the bottom of the staircase, giving the flat mural the appearance of a rug.
This public artwork is just one Jessie and Katey have undertaken in recent months. Many of their projects that were postponed due to COVID-19 are reconvening, bringing the pair to Las Vegas, Washington D.C., and a few spots in North Carolina. Although the actual painting process is solitary, Jessie and Katey say they’ve enjoyed seeing how people are experiencing outdoor art since the onset of the pandemic. “It’s really rewarding watching the work get embraced by the public. People get really creative with it, and murals end up becoming a part of the community,” they say.
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A Drawing Machine Linked to A Synthesizer Audiates Geometric Illustrations by Musician Lamond Campbell
Beyond the scratch of the pen on paper, drawing as a practice isn’t thought to be particularly rhythmic or melodic. An inventive machine by musician Lamond Campbell, though, adds a musical component to its looped sketches. The Harmonograph Synthesiser is exactly as its name suggests: Campbell connected a modern, modular synthesizer to an 18th-Century harmonograph, an antiquated apparatus that uses pendulums to render geometric shapes. Two of the swinging mechanisms move linearly with the pen, while the third rotates with the board. Each triggers the synthesizer when movement occurs, which creates the corresponding audio track. An additional microphone picks up the noise of the pen.
Watch the video above to see the intricacies of the modified contraption. Campell is selling a complete, 18-track collection on his site, and you can find more about his multi-media creations on Instagram and YouTube. To see a reverse audio-visual process, check out “Visual Sounds of the Amazon II.” (thnx, Craig!)
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Stitching lengthy, varicolored rows around found twigs, Natalie Ciccoricco juxtaposes the organic forms of nature with her meticulous embroideries. The California-based artist has been crafting her Nesting series on white, handmade paper with unfinished edges. The stark backdrop complements the precisely laid thread that seems to suspend each twig, while the natural borders offer an additional organic element.
An extension of her stitches on vintage photographs, Ciccoricco’s lastest series was born out of her time quarantined at home. “While being under quarantine at home, I started creating embroidery artworks using materials found in our yard, on our deck or nature walks,” she writes on her site. “Exploring the juxtaposition between geometric shapes and organic elements, this series is an ongoing exercise to find beauty and hope in challenging times.”
Although each piece from Nesting is sold out in her shop, some prints of her other embroideries are available on Society6. Follow Ciccoricco’s progress and see her latest works on Instagram. (via Jealous Curator)
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Tucson-based artist Albert Chamillard (previously) spends hours, if not days or weeks, crosshatching cylinders, sliced cubes, and three-dimensional arrows. Rendered on vintage ledgers and graph paper, each geometric shape relies on the density of the artist’s pen markings to create works that appear to stand straight up off the page.
Chamillard describes his process as absorbing, often occupying him for hours at a time as he meticulously draws line after line. “A much longer process is developing the drawing in pencil first so it looks ‘right,’ meaning it fits within the page and balances the shape and looks like it belongs there,” he says. “Composition is a huge part of my work, and if it doesn’t fit on a page correctly, I won’t bother finishing it.” Despite being non-representational, the works also hold information like a diary or journal. “When I’m drawing, I thinking about everything else in my life, and usually title them in a way that conveys that snapshot of time for me, so I can look at my older drawings and know roughly what was going on.” The artist hopes to convey the necessity of devotion and patience in creative work.
Each monochromatic drawing has a meditative and hypnotic effect, and Chamillard’s fascination with light and shadow began in 2017 when he started rendering three-dimensional shapes. Since then, though, he’s shifted his intention. “I am currently focused on drawing fabric, specifically folded fabric, and translating it into drawings using the same crosshatching technique I’ve been using 6 or 7 years,” he says. “I’m also experimenting with larger drawings comprised of multiple sheets of ledger paper.”
Often sourcing his materials from thrift stores and yard sales, the artist tells Colossal it hasn’t been as easy to obtain old notebooks in recent years. “They have since become much more difficult to find, so I rely on Etsy if I want a specific one, and I’ve also had the benefit of strangers on Instagram sending me ones they find (If you have an old ledger you want to see go to a good home, please contact me!).”
To see more of Chamillard’s volumetric drawings, and perhaps to share some of those papers you’ve got piling up in the attic, head to Instagram.
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Chicago-based duo Luftwerk (previously) partnered with architect Iker Gil and sound designer Oriol Tarragó for “Geometries of Light,” two coordinated installations celebrating the architectural forms of Mies van der Rohe. Both displayed in 2019, the shows were separated by one continent and approximately eight months; the German Pavilion display was on view in February 2019, and the second installation took place this fall at the Farnsworth House outside of Chicago.
The concept was was inspired by the structure’s apparent weightlessness, as it “seemingly floats perfectly on its pedestal”, Petra Bachmaier of Luftwerk tells Colossal. After an initial site visit to Barcelona in 2018, the artists decided to use “a specific tool to accentuate the clarity of the architecture with the laser level, a tool mainly used for construction sites to keep things level,” explains Backmaier. (Bosch Powertools provided the bluetooth-enabled three-plane lasers for both installations.)
For both sites, the designers were inspired by the history and context of each location. The German Pavilion was built in 1929 and demolished a year later; in 1986 it was rebuilt based on drawings. With bright red lines cutting through rooms and wrapping around walls, “Geometry of Light heightens the illusion of physical and material boundaries,” says Bachmaier. This effect also reflects the morphed history of the building, and retracing its form, from physical to two-dimensional drawing, to physical once again.
In the autumnal installation at the Farnsworth House, the artists explored the relationship between the architecture and its rural setting. “It uncovers the forgotten history of the site and remnants of earlier landscape by revealing the underlying geometries that relate the renowned house to its river floodplain, topography and key trees that no longer exist,” the artists tell Colossal.
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